Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Happy 121st Birthday Harold Gray! The creator of Little Orphan Annie!

Harold Gray
(January 20, 1894 – May 9, 1968)
the creator of 

Harold Gray created Little Orphan Annie in 1924 and for the next 44 years he would thrill millions of readers on a daily bases with Annie and her plucky, never-say-die attitude. Little Orphan Annie would hit it’s peak in the 30’s Depression Era America and become an cultural icon, embodying the optimism and hardwork ethic of American’s everywhere.
Gray is the consummate story teller. First and foremost Gray knew how to tell a good story and made you really care for his characters. When Annie is in trouble you felt it. That's what kept people coming back day after day to see what happened to Annie and her friends.

Annie was everything that was decent in a human being. Her one major characteristic was that she was a scrapper; she never gave up. No matter how bad the odds, Annie was always pushing through. And this is just what Depression Era America needed more than anything else; the spirit to persevere through the bad times to that brighter future.

Gray was an exceptional character writer. He could capture a person's character in just a panel or two. Unlike his name, his characters were black and white. With Gray, you knew right away just who was a nasty person and who was good at heart.

Gray's world was, for the most part, a benevolent world. He believed that most people were good at heart. Though there are always a few bad apples, most people, if given the chance, will do what is good and right.

Gray had great villains in his comics. Often they were petty, greedy people in positions of power that took advantage of their positions to gain at the expense of the less fortunate.

Gray was against F. D. R.'s socialist handouts and his New Deal. He believed that no one was deserving of a hand out and that everyone should work for what they get.

Gray's Annie was a hard worker, a fighter, and an innovator always on the lookout for an opportunity to get ahead. You would never catch her being idol. Even though she was just a kid, she would often keep busy with some kind of project or another.

Annie the scrapper. Her "never say die" attitude won the hearts of the people who populated Gray's popular comic strip as well as the Depression Era Americans who needed the encouragement and hope to push through to a better tomorrow.

Gray was a direct man, a man of action. He didn't believe in being clever or pussyfooting around. If someone needed a good pop in the nose, they usually got it in Gray's comic strip and the audience loved him for it and cheered him on.

Gray believed that most people were actually kind at heart. There are a few bad apples in Gray's comics but for the most part his world was one of kindhearted people who, if given half a chance, will do the right thing and come through in the end.

Harold Gray worked on Little Orphan Annie for 44 years. He would entertain millions but he was not against a little controversy. Gray would often express his opinions in his strip and often rile up people and get his strip canceled in various newspapers who didn't agree with Gray's opinions. Though often political, first and foremost he was a story teller and a comic artist, writing and drawing his comic strip daily for 44 years until his death in 1968. He left a big legacy behind with his comic Little Orphan Annie, one reflecting and honoring the American people of the first half of the 20th century and one honoring the great American artform of the Comic Strip of which he was a master!

R. C. Harvey wrote a great article for the Comics Journal in honor of Little Orphan Annie officially being retired after 86 years. "The Orphan's Epic"

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